In the past month we've been reading, listening to...
The Bottom Line on BBC Radio Four featured executive coaching and mentoring in the programme Lonely at the Top?. Leadership Adviser Jonathan Bowman-Perks recounted his hair raising experience with one client. The leadership adviser had broken his own rule: “I don’t do remedial”, and ended up feeling bullied by his client.
That was the exception of course, but for Bowman-Perks the experience demonstrated what coaching wasn’t about: a means of dealing with problem staff.
Melanie Richards, vice chairman of KPMG UK spoke of the realities of life as a senior executive that her coach helped her face.
“I always think this idea that work life balance exists is probably not a reality, I think the truth is we make things fit. Sometimes work has to take priority, sometimes family has to take priority. And you have to make those things work,” she told presenter Evan Davies.Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group described how he used mentors such as former FT-SE 100 bosses as mentors.
“These are people who’ve been through the experience that… I am going through at the moment and are able to just help you think through some of the challenges that you face.”
The issues facing so-called Millennials or Generation Y (those born between the 1980s and mid 1990s) featured in a special series of articles in the Guardian in March.
In her article, Aisha Gani sought to dispel stereotypes around Generation Y who "will make up half the work force by 2050". Some talk disparagingly of 'generation me'; but Gani reported that there seems to be little proof that this generation hops from job to job more often than Generation X'ers at a similar age. Echoing Melanie Richards thoughts in the Bottom Line, this is a generation that doesn't talk ‘ work/life balance’ but 'work/life integration'.
And there's 'reverse mentoring' where Generation Y’ers teach old staff social media skills. This is also a generation of 'playlabour', where the lack of long-term financial security sees Generation Y looking for a job that they can at least enjoy.
Fancy the freedom of unlimited holidays to achieve work/life integration? Jenny Biggam, co founder of media agency The7stars, apparently had that policy for her staff ten years before Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson announced it for his. Though of course he got the fanfare.
"I'm all about people realising their potential in a lateral way and not moving up the career ladder rung by rung” Biggam told journalist Laura Onita in her Sundays Times article: Onita continues, "Biggam said her flat structure cuts red tape and boosts creativity. Placing such trust in her 140 staff means they are less likely to abuse the system, she claimed."
Sam Leith’s review of the new book Eloquence by speechwriter Brian Jenner had some great insight on influencing. It’s not for general sale, so Leith pulled out top tips from speechwriters, negotiators, and coaches in his Financial Times article. Those tips included the importance of stories and images, deploying language that the audience uses themselves, being optimistic (“what’s working and how can we do more of it”) and the importance of brevity. Taking that on board, see you next month.